Craft of Teaching Martial Arts

Here are 10 basic fundamental strategies, tactics and techniques of instructing in Taekwondo which I share with all my new instructors.  These are nothing new to most veteran instructors.  Most of talented instructors already employ these principles and tactics instinctively.  However, I hope this writing will help some veteran instructors to articulate what they already know to young instructors.


1)   Visually Display and Demonstrate; Beautiful setting always inspires people

Have students line up effectively and efficiently; make sure they understand and practice what we are demanded of them.Use visual and words to motivate students; location marks, physical ques by body gestures,Maintain beautiful, clean environment and facility.  Students will pay attention better when their surrounds are inspiring.  Parents needs to be quiet - remember that they are not watching a hockey game - but a class instruction.


2)   Set the Tone and Mood

Make them wear appropriate uniform or attires for each occasion; regular class, special training, belt test, tournament and others.

2.  Rituals & Demand good postures; Flag salutation, pep talk and posture training

3.  Demand students to reply in high energy…  'Kiap' and high energy reply will change their mood.


3)   Establish Authority

Strong Body Language - Demonstrate confidence & poise with good postures.  Instructors must appear to be in good mood, high energy and confident.  Surprisingly, many instructors do not find this important.  They need to change their own mindset before they exepct their students to change!  Sound like a leader - Confident but calm energy with friendly smile.  Speak like a leader by using  professional vocabularies!Dress up like a leader – nice clean uniform and stay in great shape.  It sounds like a common sense, but many young instructors needs to be reminded on their overall appearances - especially with their haircuts and jewelry. 


4)   Plan and Execute Your Lesson Well

Change Drills / Disguise repetition - no explanation needed on this one.Flowing Class – plan so everything will flow and feels great on student’s body.  It needs to be age and level specific, progressive, dynamic and fun.  This happens when you are prepared.Have a schedule, theme, deadlines, events and etc.   Tournament preparation, belt test preparation, after the belt test and etc.


5)   Maintain Triangular Balance of Function, Presentation and Educational Entertainment

Make sure everything has purpose and function to it. Make it Presentable and make it fun!Entertaining and Educational! Based on the nature of each class - your emphasis may be slightly different.


For an example, 

1) Teaching white belt class - light on function while heavy focus on presentation and education.

2) Teaching adults - well balanced approach.

3) Teaching sparring team - strong on function (conditioning), while weak on entertainment. 

4) Teaching demo team - strong on function, entertaining, but surprisigly weak on presentation; demo team practice can resemble a baseball practice.


6)   Have Students Demonstrate

Frequent Praises and Frequent Correction (occasional reprimandation - with caution)Asking Questions frequently and praise those who can answer it.Have Student Demonstrate – overcoming pressure and public presentation building; you also give them a chacne to shine out in the public.


7)   Promote competitiveness

Use competition and a quick improvised test to keep students to push harderMake Contest Winnable – creative as many categories to create many winners; push ups, sit ups, sprint, jumping front kick, spinning kicks, breaking, wrestling, sparring and etc.Public Praise and promote pride (award ceremony)


8)   Creative an interaction of parents

Provide many reading materials; which articulates and validates your believes Evoke strong emotions from parents by talking about their kids progress or ask them about their kids.Provide discussion materials for parents with kid * (this is the holy grail for many school owners.


9)   Class Management

Identify discouraged students and give extra attention and encouragement If someone can not follow direction, pull them aside and make sure they understand what is being corrected. – excellent presentation and situation handling in the eyes of public. Utilize the higher belt students as much as you can and make the class interactive.  Develop leadership in them and give more one on one tutorial session for junior belts. * When everything fails, recommend private lessons.  


10) Instill philosophy behind all aspects of Taekwondo

Tie down everyday training with Academy Tenets – Loyalty, respect, self-control, responsibility and humility.  You can draw life lessons from everything - sparring, wrestling, waiting in lines and etc.Give theory and philosophy training – instill a sense of purpose and understanding of why we practice them.  However, keep this short.Train our members to become self-motivated, self-reliant and contributing students of the art, rather than demanding, dependent and passive members. These suggestion should be examined and practiced until it is tightly ingrained and weaved into your teaching pattern.  Remember that we have to do more than just teaching.  We must present to watchful eyes of parents. The master instructors know how to present, while preserving the true purpose and function behind teaching materials. 




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